What do you get when you mix together Will & Grace, a heaping dose of acerbic, sex-fueled humor, a pinch of Christopher Nolan’s Memento and a dash of social commentary that— given the material and quite expressive title— can’t help but seep through? You get Jordan Seavey’s Homos, or Everyone in America, a play that flaunts its subject material as proudly as a rainbow flag.
Like the flag, the play is loud and in-your-face, but holds a profound message.
The crew at Convergence-Continuum and Director Clyde Simon clearly understand the purpose of a play like Homos and have given it a stellar treatment, taking its concept and immersing its audience into, essentially, a snapshot story of a relationship that bears resemblance to something so genuine it almost feels intrusive. The intimate space of the Liminus is utilized to its peak potential.
The play centers around an unnamed writer (Nate Homolka) and an academic (Kieron Cindric), two gay man on opposite ends of the Myers-Briggs scale. The writer is slightly uptight, narcissistic and has a tendency to label people, while the academic is more expressive, always optimistic and generally more carefree. The two find themselves meeting on Friendster—in case you wanted to know when this was set— and throughout the run time, their relationship is encapsulated into fragments, each a few minutes long, played out of chronological order and then partially back in order to show the peaks and valleys of their relationship. It emphasizes the more hostile and argumentative exchanges and juxtaposes those with the more sweet and loving moments. There is betrayal, intrigue, lust, love at first upchuck and even hints at introducing a threesome, a desire only partially expressed by the writer.
Wedged in the middle of the couple is Dan (Corey East), another conventionally attractive gay man who becomes friends with the academic first, but slowly becomes a mutual friend of both of the men, and their relationship flirts with a "will they, won’t they" kind of love triangle.
These segments of their relationship are reflected by some cinematic mood lighting by Eva Nel Brettrager and sound design by Austin Hopson. The sound effects vary from crisp swooshes and swishes to off-stage, piped-in crowd chants and even physical props for some noises that may even make you jump out of your seat. Additionally, props to costume designer Scott Zolkowski for finding multifaceted outfits as well as some outrageous pride clothing, particularly for East’s character in one scene set during a marriage equality rally.
Productions such as this hinge on incredible performances to keep the audience’s attention, and they may have found the two most capable people to carry this particular story.
Homolka beams with confidence, gushing with caustic wit and an — ironically— straight-man routine that pairs well with Cindric’s flamboyancy. Meanwhile, Cindric explodes with emotion and waxes poetic, along with some perverse quips, with excellent comedic timing and a poise that would make Sean Hayes blush.
Together, the two share an inseparable chemistry that makes the audience feel every nuanced conflict, argument, moment of passion and connection and everything in-between. Both debuting at Convergence with this particular production, they are sure to both become instant fan-favorites.
As the buffer in between the two quarreling on-again-off-again lovers, East displays the best qualities of both men in his performance, combining a lighthearted presence with his own fair share of dry cadence, especially in his scenes with Homolka.
Additionally, Rocky Encalada makes quite the expression, even with essentially a one-scene appearance as Leila, a bubbly, affectionate Lush employee who shares a touching moment with Homolka.
On the topic of Lush, it’s almost as if the play was sponsored by the store itself. Without any ill word against the franchise— as the capacity of being able to hate on fragrant soaps is laughable— its inclusion instead of the use of a generic stand-in name is probably the most jarring creative choice in the production.
The highest praise for this play is the exceptional dialogue within Seavey’s script and its execution. The flow and dictation bear their teeth for a conversational, relaxing tone with instances that carry a bit of bite, feeling at times authentically harsh and bitter, yet still staying within its tone and never past the point of being cruel, or ending an actual relationship with the appropriate context.
Seavey even toys with the idea of flipping the switch from lighthearted banter to explosive conflict on a dime, just to keep the audience on its toes. The verbal stones thrown in scenes like those are so well-crafted, it may inspire those attending to add some of the more colorful clapbacks into their repertoire. We would be remiss to quote them as many of the best ones are entirely NSFW.
Unabashedly blunt and fiercely seething with passion, Homos is more than just a witty comedy. It’s got some serious storytelling chops and a sobering observation of being gay, whether within the tail end of the Bush administration in which this play takes place or even today. Homos makes its audience fall in love with it, and it will break your heart, make you laugh and even make you think. Convergence-Continuum welcomes those lured by its inane humor to take that trip, and come out the other side with an important message about acceptance and optimism for the future of human rights and equality.
“Homos, or Everyone In America” through Nov. 9 at the Convergence-Continuum Theatre (2438 Scranton Rd., 216-687-0074, convergence-continuum.org.)
Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.